Friday 22 July 2011

Your say: What are the concerns of the Private Sector and the communities in respect of greening businesses and markets?

Clive Hawigen,
21 July 2011

“We believe in the benefits of greening businesses, however you need to see the balance when you’re pursuing green business with the cost that will be incurred in getting technology that is environmentally friendly, the production that may have to take place and of course in order to get products that are organic, you have to go through a process – all of that comes with a cost. At the same time there are actions that have been taken, for example with developed countries one of their key strategies is to lower carbon emissions through imposing a carbon tax. By doing this, it has an impact on the airfares of people travelling here, for example people travelling from England to our region. This can mean a reduction in our tourist market and of course tourism is a big industry in the Pacific.” - Ms Mereia Volavola, Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation

“I think some of the concerns raised this morning are very valid. First of all, the issue of financing, of going green but I think when you say financing, it needs another element and it needs policy. It’s not necessarily you need a big financing but small changes within your organization to start going green. Investing, for example all this time you’ve be serving lunch to your eco tourist clients by giving them this Styrofoam lid cover for lunch boxes, why not get these reusable plastics, doesn’t cost much but it’s there. So I think from the governments point of view is yes they need financial support but at the same time government needs to develop policies that could slowly make changes, not a very drastic change, but as time goes on the business will change their behavior. Secondly coming from the government point of view is that yes we want green but for small island states, costs will still be high for the national government so it’s a balance that some countries have to make compared to the other countries who have big land and have the luxury of time. Palau doesn’t, Palau needs to act now because we’re a small country.” - Joe Aitaro, Government of Palau

“What we are doing in the country is to use the whole government approach where we deal with the sectors but deal with them in parallel with the others because we don’t want to leave the agriculture sector behind from, let’s say, mining because we see them all as important sectors because of economy development. But when it comes to green economy, we are looking at how sustainable are these private players in the whole issue. Basically, what we want to look at is maybe the private sectors coming up with their agendas of how they see and understand the green economy. Communities also need to participate by telling us how they see the green economy to be workable in the Pacific and looking at the churches which tries to blend all these - the private sector and communities into a process and church can be a vehicle for implementing this. In Papua New Guinea what we are doing now is trying to take this environmental sustainability agenda by mainstreaming into the whole sector and we’ve got two main objective. One is to do with climate change adaptation and the other is on environmental sustainability so we try as much as possible to use the one government approach.” - Kumaras Kay Kalim, Papua New Guinea Department of Environment and Conservation

“The private sector would like very much to see that in greening the economy it has benefit to the private sector instead of having a burden on the private sector. So, to go about helping the private sector in to go on with their business, they are suggesting for the government to fund the outcomes for green economy so they can start greening the economy on whatever business they are doing. As I said before is that greening the economy to benefit them rather than being a cost to them. They have looked and done things in terms of energy efficiency, that there’s funds for actually put in place where they can reduce the cost of electricity bill which some of them have done.

So what we need to do from a perspective of a forum like this is to draw and learn from what they are doing so that we can learn better than what we are doing now. Their message is very simple and that we have to go back to the communities and see what the communities are doing in the villages and learn from them and that will teach us how to do better. One of the interesting things that the Pacific Council of Churches mentioned is that although we are talking about green economy, their perspective is that green economy is more or less talking about the private sector economy, the formal economy, whereas high percentage of the economy in the Pacific are informal economy so how do you apply green economy which you would apply in a formal economy to an informal economy? We have to look at it very carefully to apply economic concept which are appropriate for the informal economy so that we can have a better sustainable development in the island countries because up to 80% of the Pacific Island economy is informal economy.” - Henry Taiki – Programme Officer – WMO